The trailhead on Main street in Manasquan
When we were kids my mother used to drive us to Manasquan Beach every summer. We’d come down Routes 34 and 35 from Holmdel and take the exit off the nearby circle onto Main Street and pass right by this trail entrance. Of course, the trail wasn’t there then; I’m not sure railroad tracks were still there, either. I don’t know when the Freehold & Jamesburg Railroad stopped running…probably in the 1960s, but the former right of way was converted to a rail trail in the 1990s. So now, some 45 years after my teen years I ride my Cannondale Adventure 3 on this great rail trail which takes you between Allaire State Park and Manasquan. Thank you, Edgar Felix for advocating a rail trail conversion along this historic corridor. I only wish the man were still alive to enjoy it (he died some time ago).
Ailing U.S. president James A. Garfield traveled along this line in 1881 to the “seashore” to aid in his recovery after being shot in an assassination attempt…which he survived. Unfortunately, he died 79 days later from “the doctors’ relentless probing of his wound with un-sterilized fingers and instruments.” (“List of United States presidential assassination attempts and plots,” n.d.) There is a lot of other history you can read about on the kiosks at the historic Kessler Farm site just west of Hospital Road in Allaire, near the trail’s current western end.
This trail will eventually be the “Capital to The Coast” Trail, stretching from Trenton to Manasquan. There are lots of similar promises of trails planned elsewhere in the state but I’m not holding my breath. These projects seem to take decades to realize. I’ll look forward to it—hopefully it’ll be in my lifetime!
Photos from along the trail